This weekend I attended the biggest family reunion I’ve ever been to. Now my family takes a trip to Florida every year… most all of my relatives on my dad’s side of the family attends. We usually draw anywhere between 30-50 total family members and friends. I look forward to this time every year, because when my aunts, uncles, and cousins see each other… it’s like we didn’t skip a beat from the last time we all saw each other. I love my family and every year the reunion is one of the best highlights of my year.
While that reunion was great this summer… that wasn’t the family reunion I am talking about. I am talking about La Familia. La Familia (The Family) of the Big Blue Nation has been creating the best reunion that anyone could attend since 2012. Coach John Calipari started this Charity Weekend tradition in 2012, and every year it gets better and better. When I say La Familia… I’m not talking about the fans of the Big Blue Nation (although we are a family)… I am talking about the players.
Now usually at every family reunion, there’s an ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’ that everyone chalks up as ‘that crazy family member‘. If you’re reading this, and you don’t recall your family ever having that conversation… there may be a chance that you are in fact ‘that crazy family member.’ It’s rare if a family doesn’t have one of these. You usually try to avoid this person due to conversations being awkward. With that being said, at this year’s Charity Weekend at Rupp Arena… I saw a family come together without any judgements, stereotypes, or awkward conversations. There was no ‘crazy’ member.
The 2017 Legends and Alumni games were wonderful. However, the games themselves weren’t exactly what made this weekend an unforgettable memory for me. You see… watching Kentucky basketball growing up… I started fully understanding what was going on around ’96-’98. When I was younger I knew that if the blue or white team on my box TV lost that my dad wouldn’t be as happy as he was before the game. Naturally… I liked seeing my dad happy, so blue and white became my favorite colors. Then I heard a story about another blue and white team that in 1992 broke my dad’s heart, so I started cheering against that team. So that’s pretty much how I became a Kentucky basketball fan… I’m sure many other people have a similar story.
I knew players’ names like Cameron Mills, Wayne Turner, Jamaal Magloire, Jeff Sheppard, and Heshimu Evans, because those were names that I heard my dad yell out during some of those ’96-’98 games. I didn’t know many players before those years though. I heard stories as I grew up about my uncle almost naming his son (if he would’ve had one), Kyle (after Kyle Macy), but I didn’t relate to those players. I didn’t get to watch them play, so to me… they were different than the UK players that I began to follow, obsess over, and pretend to be. Up through last year… I’ve fallen deeper and deeper
in-love watching these players as almost as if I knew them. When they got angry, I would get angry. When Malik Monk would look sad, I would look sad. It was almost like I cared more about them… than people I actually know.
Well this weekend at Rupp Arena… I saw decades come together and reflect what a loving family looks like. I saw Kyle Macy give a high-five to Shagari Alleyne. I saw Ramel Bradley almost roll on the floor laughing after DeMarcus Cousins told a joke. I saw hugs, laughs, jokes, trash-talking, high-fives, teasing… and everything else between former Kentucky Wildcats. Hearing Erik Daniels talk about how much this weekend meant to his family being able to meet players like Karl Towns and Eric Bledsoe was just awesome. If you were there… you saw la famila. No matter how old… no matter how young… it’s clear that the love and respect these men have for each other will last a lifetime. I’m just honored that I got to be a witness… and if we can be honest with each other… I feel like a distant cousin to this family
By far… my favorite picture of the night though… Malik Monk and Tyler Ulis sharing a laugh (below). So as you look at these pictures in this article and future pictures I post from this weekend… I encourage you to reflect and maybe reach out to that family member who you might not have talked to recently. I’m sure if Lukasz Obrzut can get Kenny “Sky” Walker to laugh… you can share a laugh with your familia too.